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Officials explore Russian COVID-19 vaccine plant in the Philippines

Philippine and Russian officials have discussed how to ensure the country's access to Russia’s coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines once approved as well as the possible establishment of a vaccine plant in the country.

According to Lei Alviz’s report on “24 Oras Weekend,” the officials are expecting a possible delay in the distribution of vaccines due to the likely demand for the drug.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and outgoing Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev discussed the matter during Khovaev's courtesy call.

“Gusto natin magkaroon ng ganito, no, because this will provide us with that advantage, no? Hindi lang dito sa pandemyang ito, but you know, in the coming years na magkakaroon tayo ulit ng mga pangangailangan na ganito,” Health undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained.

Participation in clinical trials is one of the Philippines’ strategies to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines. The Department of Science and Technology had said that the provision permitting the Philippines to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines in the country is a requirement in its bilateral agreements with other nations.

Vaccine developers who have sought permission to conduct phase 3 clinical trials in the country included the Gamaleya Research Institute of Russia, the developer of Sputnik V; Janssen Pharmaceuticals; and Sinovac Biotech of China.

Aside from this, four other vaccine developers have signed a confidentiality agreement allowing the Philippines’ vaccine experts panel to review the results of their phase 1 and phase 2 trials.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health is also monitoring the advisory of the World Health Organization at the beginning of the solidarity trials for the vaccines. Joahna Lei Casilao/DVM, GMA News